A Closer Look at “Ban the Box” Rules

Many businesses haven’t changed their hiring procedures much in recent years. “If it works, why mess with it?” is an oft-heard refrain. While there is a convenience in doing the old-fashioned way, new rules have come into play that may limit how companies can conduct background checks on prospective employees.

What is “Ban the Box?”

As of 2019, 35 states, the District of Columbia and over 150 cities and counties have adopted what’s called “ban the box” rules that ensure employers must consider a job candidate’s qualifications first before they can consider the candidate’s conviction or arrest record. The goal is to help people who may have criminal convictions in their past gain employment by giving them a fair chance for a job. In practice, “Ban the Box” removes the conviction history question from job applications and delays background checks until later in the hiring process.

While many of the rules are broad and in some cases apply only to federal employees or contractors, 12 states—California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have also required the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers. Aside from the most local of companies who do business entirely outside of these states, this means the rules could affect a majority of companies doing business in the U.S. In fact, if you add up the population of the states and localities that have adopted “Ban the Box” policies, there are now over 258 million people in the U.S. —which represents more than three-quarters of the U.S. population— who live in a jurisdiction with some form of fair-chance hiring policy.

Updated Hiring Policies

In addition to “Ban the Box,” most of these states and municipalities are adopting the best practices created in the 2012 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on using arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, which can further complicate the rules of recruiting and hiring.

For this reason, if your hiring procedures haven’t been updated recently, you could be in violation of the law. Hiring is a complex process today, particularly for organizations that hire across state or county lines. To ensure you’re not violating the rights of prospective employees, it’s a good idea to rely on background checks by a professional agency.

Ensure You’re Doing Background Checks Properly

Criminal history background checks are an integral part of the hiring process and help protect companies and their employees. It’s essential, however, that employers ensure they’re following all the rules, including fair employment mandates.

Get Professional Help

With the services of a professional pre-employment background screening company like DataCheck, you can protect your workers and your business and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits while still complying with “ban the box” laws. Contact DataCheck at 949-339-2305 or visit our website.

70% of Employers Are Using Social Media to Screen Candidates

Employers today have a wide variety of screening tools at their disposal. It helps that potential employees, like most Americans, regularly publish information about themselves. More and more companies are using this information – most of it accessible by social media – to pre-check candidates before they put out a job offer.

According to a study conducted by CareerBuilder last year, 70 percent of employers say they are now using social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43 percent of employers use social media to check on current employees. The goal, companies say, is to ensure that the individual is a good “fit” for the company, and to ferret out any reasons NOT to hire someone.

Employers who responded to the CareerBuilder survey listed the following reasons for pre-screening candidates on social media:

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job (61 percent)
  • If the candidate has a professional online persona at all (50 percent)
  • What other people are posting about the candidates (37 percent)
  • For any reason at all not to hire a candidate (24 percent)

Professional Screening Services

Checking social media can be a tedious process, however, which is why there is an increasing number of tools and services that can help you use available information – not just social media, but search engines too – to build a better picture of a job candidate and ensure you’ve got the right person.

At DataCheck, we provide pre-employment background checks, drug tests and screening services that include a comprehensive search of the major social media platforms to gain insight into a candidate’s online behavior and appropriateness based on your company’s basic code of conduct and values.

Using our services you can uncover evidence of criminal behavior, unprofessional conduct or lies, and misrepresentation about experience and education. The goal is to prevent you from hiring candidates who aren’t a good fit or who could even be a danger to the company’s existing employees and reputation.

For more information about how DataCheck can help with screening candidates via social media and other means, visit our web site or call 800-253-3394.

Common Mistakes Businesses Make When Conducting Pre-Employment Background Checks

Conducting background checks on job applicants is an essential part of the hiring process. Employers often rush through the process or fail to stay up to date on changing laws. This can lead them to make mistakes. These are some of the most common mistakes employers make when conducting background checks on prospective employees and how you can avoid them.

Not Getting a Job Applicant’s Consent First

An employer is legally required to obtain a job candidate’s written consent before conducting a background check. This must be obtained through a form that tells the candidate that the information from a background check will be used to make an employment decision. Conducting a background check without prior consent is a violation of the law that can have serious consequences.

Not Verifying Key Information

A background check company will be careful to obtain correct information, but sometimes mistakes happen. This is often because multiple people have the same name or there is a mistake in a Social Security number or date of birth. Take the time to verify an applicant’s information before conducting a background check so you can get accurate records.

Not Conducting a Complete Background Check

Some employers only check a national criminal history database. This may not include records from all parts of the country. You should also conduct state and local background checks to uncover potential crimes in an employee’s record.

Employers often check applicants’ criminal and work histories but fail to verify their educational backgrounds. Many job applicants include misleading or downright false information on their resumes, including degrees they did not earn and even degrees from institutions of higher learning that do not exist. A thorough background check should always verify a job candidate’s educational background.

Not Giving an Applicant Time to Respond Before Taking Adverse Action

Before you decide not to hire someone because of information uncovered in a background check, you must notify the candidate and give him or her a chance to respond. The information may be incorrect, or the candidate may wish to provide additional information that may affect your decision.

DataCheck Can Help You Conduct Thorough and Accurate Background Checks

Conducting a background check on a job applicant is necessary, but you need to do it carefully. Mistakes often happen because employers don’t understand the law or try to rush through the process.

DataCheck has helped many businesses all over the United States conduct pre-employment background checks. We can help your company comply with all federal, state, and local laws and obtain correct information so you can make the best hiring decisions possible. Contact us today to learn more.

Will a Background Check Show an Arrest That Did Not Lead to a Conviction?

Most employers in all fields conduct background checks on job applicants before they offer candidates employment. One of the most important parts of a background check is a check for past criminal behavior. While most people know that a background check will show prior convictions for crimes, there is some confusion about whether or not an arrest record will be revealed.

How Arrest Records May Be Reported

Courts generally report an arrest in a similar way to how they report a conviction. The company performing the background check needs to go through the information to find out if the person was convicted, if the charges were dropped, or if the person is awaiting trial.

An arrest record may be described as a pending case, which may result in a conviction, plea deal, or acquittal. It may also be designated as an arrest/non-conviction, meaning the person was found not guilty or the charges were dismissed, or arrest/conviction, meaning that the person was convicted or pled guilty.

Can Arrest Records Be Considered in Hiring Decisions?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act places restrictions on what types of information employers can consider in making decisions about hiring, promoting, and retaining employees. The FCRA lets employers consider arrest records within the past seven years when making employment decisions.

Other laws place limitations on how information in a person’s criminal record can be used. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that an employer must have a valid reason for denying employment based on an arrest record. Some states have laws that prohibit employers from considering arrest records that did not lead to convictions when making employment decisions.

An employer may want to consider an arrest record related to a pending case if a conviction for the offense would exclude the person from employment. If a conviction for that offense would not prevent the company from hiring the person, then the company can choose not to consider the arrest record. Some industries, such as financial services and banking, are mandated to consider applicants’ arrest records. An employer may also want to look at whether the arrest was an isolated event or whether the applicant has a pattern of arrests and convictions.

DataCheck Can Help with Pre-Employment Background Checks

If your company is thinking about hiring or promoting an employee, you should conduct a background check. It will include records of criminal convictions and may also include records of recent arrests that you may want to consider in making your employment decision. DataCheck has helped many businesses all over the United States conduct pre-employment background checks so they could make informed hiring and promotion decisions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your company.

How Far Back Do Pre-Employment Background Checks Go?

Most employers conduct background checks on job applicants as part of the hiring process. A background check can uncover important information such as criminal convictions and can allow an employer to verify an applicant’s education and previous employment. Some employers also check candidates’ credit if they would be working in positions that involve handling money.

Fair Credit Reporting Act Guidelines

Records on individuals can stretch back many years, or even decades. Some information may not be included in a background check if it is more than a specific number of years old. State laws vary, but the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act sets some general guidelines.

The FCRA sets time limits on certain types of information that may be collected as part of a background check. Bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old, tax liens that were paid more than seven years ago, accounts that were sent to a collections agency more than seven years ago, civil suits and civil judgments that are more than seven years old, arrest records that are more than seven years old, and any other adverse actions, except criminal convictions, that are more than seven years old may not be reported to employers. These time limits do not apply to candidates for positions that pay $75,000 or more per year.

Reporting of Criminal Convictions Varies by Location

The FCRA does not set a time limit on the reporting of criminal convictions, but some state laws do. Different counties have different policies on how long they keep records of criminal convictions. Felony records are usually kept for a long time, while records of misdemeanors may be purged sooner.

Records of Past Employment and Education

Employers vary in terms of how long they keep records on past employees. A verification of past employment could turn up records related to employment that was recent or decades old.

Education verification is a credential check. Most colleges and universities keep records indefinitely, so employers can check a candidate’s education regardless of when the degree was earned.

Verifications of Current Status

Some parts of a background check are checks of current status. A Social Security number verification checks to make sure the Social Security number provided is currently registered to the applicant in question. A credit check looks into the current state of a person’s finances, and a license verification checks to make sure an applicant currently holds a valid license.

Contact DataCheck for Help with Pre-Employment Background Checks

If you are planning to hire a new employee, you should conduct a background check to verify an applicant’s education and work history and check for criminal convictions before extending an offer of employment. DataCheck has helped employers all over the United States conduct thorough background checks so they could make the right hiring decisions. We will work to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and all other relevant state and local laws. Contact DataCheck today to get started.